13 killed in California crash allegedly breached Mexico fence, entered U.S. illegally

04 Mars, 2021, 12:25 | Auteur: Therese Cote
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While the Chevy Suburban was forced to stop when it caught fire soon after crossing over the border, the Ford Expedition and its 25 passengers continued on.

Accounts on the number of passengers in the SUV and the number of fatalities vary.

The semi was headed north on Route 115, south of Norrish Road, and the Ford was traveling west on Norrish, just east of 115, officials said.

The weather was clear.

Every survivor was injured to some extent, highway patrol said. "It's unfortunate that that many people were put into that vehicle because there's not enough safety constraints to safely keep those people in that vehicle". Numerous people were ejected, he said. Ten of the 13 victims were identified as Mexican citizens. "We offer our profound condolences and reaffirm our commitment to the families of the persons who lose their lives". The driver of the larger truck was also injured.

Six patients were transferred to San Diego-area hospitals for treatment - four were airlifted to UC San Diego Medical Center and two were taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital.

Judy Cruz, the managing director of the Emergency Room Department at El Centro Regional Medical Center, earlier had said the vehicle had 28 occupants and that 15 had died.

CHP Chief Omar Watson said 13 people died due to injuries suffered in the crash - 12 on scene and another shortly after at an area hospital. "This was a major accident and we are taking care of them in the emergency room department". The ages of those injured ranges from 16 years old to 55 years old. There is little additional concrete information about them, where they had come from or where they were going.

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The Border Patrol's special trauma and rescue team responded to the crash to help the victims. It's typical for people to cross the border daily. "That's not something we can necessarily rule out".

"All are suspected to have entered the US illegally", border patrol said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has launched a "human smuggling investigation" in connection with the fatal crash, the Times reported.

CBP's El Centro sector chief Gregory Bovino said that investigators believe the SUVs were part of what was described as a "migrant smuggling operation".

Authorities from various state and federal agencies are investigating the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was conducting an investigation into the crash.

Authorities do not yet know if the driver of the 1997 Ford Expedition, who died in the crash, had stopped at a stop sign before crossing into the path of the big rig around 6:15 a.m., Watson said. He did not say whether either vehicle was speeding.

© Provided by NBC News Image: Collision scene near Holtville, Calif. "At this time it is unknown if alcohol and drugs were a factor in the collision and if seat belts were worn", the report said. The vehicle he drove, a 2011 Peterbilt semi, belonged to Havens and Sons Trucking Inc. of El Centro. Multiple calls to the local business went unanswered. He said they were made by migrant workers deported over the last few years or refugees waiting in Mexico to hear about their respective asylum cases.

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